I don't think Sun TV will last much longer.
The network, never shy about self-promotion, seems almost an infomercial for itself these days. Network personalities have been drafted to explain the urgent public necessity of making Sun mandatory carriage, that is of taxing everyone with cable or satellite service. Viewers are directed to a website, where they can send an email to the CRTC in support of its application.
As with every other corporate special pleader since Confederation, the campaign lays on the nationalism with a trowel. Sun promotional materials note the network is “100% Canadian” and produces “96 hours a week of Canadian content.” Its submission quotes everyone from Pierre Juneau, the CRTC’s first chairman, to Jack Layton, not forgetting to butter up the commission itself: “Strong Role For The CRTC,” runs one section heading.
There just aren’t words for this kind of gall. Even by the standards of the cultural sector, it’s breathtaking: proof, yet again, that the only thing you need to succeed in Canadian business is utter shamelessness, coupled with an invincible sense of entitlement to the public’s money. Leave aside its general positioning of itself as the voice for conservative, free-market types, or its constant lectures to others on the need for self-reliance. This is the network that, when it is not talking about itself (sole opposition to the “non-Sun media”) is more or less obsessed with the CBC and its “billion-dollar subsidy.” All forgotten, apparently.
Well, not quite. The network argues it is only asking for the same deal as its competitors in the all-news business, including the CBC. And, in fairness, it is. CBC Newsworld (now CBC News Network) and CTV News Channel were both given mandatory carriage when they first launched, and for many years afterward. Nor is Sun the only supplicant before the CRTC asking to be blessed in this way. Others include Starlight (“the Canadian Movie Channel”), Natural Resources Television, and EqualiTV, a channel for disabled Canadians.
But if fairness is what we’re after, there’s another way to go about it. Rather than give every channel an equal chance to stick their hands in the public’s pockets — to force viewers to pay for channels they would not pay for willingly — it is to grant that privilege to no one: to leave viewers free to decide whether or not to subscribe to each channel, on its own merits.